Mark Webber

March 23, 2010 by  
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Australian Formula One driver Mark Alan Webber was born on 27 August 1976 in the New South Wales’ town of Queanbeyan in Australia. His father a motorcycle dealer, Mark Webber began racing motorcycles at a young age. In 1991 he decided to start karting, winning the New South Wales state championship two years later in 1993. The following year he went on to compete in the Australian Formula Ford Championship, where he finished 14th overall. 1995 saw greater success for Webber, who gained a number of victories and finished in fourth place.

Mark Webber moved to the United Kingdom in 1995, so as to further pursue his career in the world of auto racing. That same year he took part in the Formula Ford Festival for the Van Diemen team and took third position. In 1996 Webber came in second overall in the British Formula Ford Championship and third in the Formula Ford Euro Cup. At the end of 1996 he was signed by Alan Docking Racing to begin his foray into Formula Three racing in 1997. His Formula Three season was successful, ending the season in fourth position overall. Webber was signed to the Mercedes team for the 1998 FIA GT Championship. He met with further triumph that year, taking the runner-up position after five wins. 1999 saw Webber again racing for AMG, but the season was cut short after aerodynamic problems with the vehicles.

In 2000 Webber made a move to Formula 3000 racing. Racing for Eurobet Arrows, he came in third overall in the FIA International Formula 3000 series. A talented driver he went on to take second place in the 2001 F3000 season, driving for Super Nova Racing. 2001 also saw Mark Webber test driving for Benetton Formula One.

Mark Webber’s Formula One career began in 2002. Competing for the Minardi team, with teammate Alex Yoong, he impressed many in his debut season. Webber decided to join the Jaguar F1 team for the 2003 season, gaining 17 of the team’s 18 points and coming in tenth overall in the standings. He carried on with Jaguar in 2004, though it was a difficult season with few highlights to speak of. 2005 saw Webber joining the Williams team, though it was not quite what was hoped for, though he did qualify with seven top-five grid slots and gained a podium position in Monaco. Still with Williams in 2006, he was able to score just seven points for the season. Webber had a trying 2007 season with the Red Bull team, ending on 10 points and 12th place overall. 2008 was an improvement gaining 21 points and finishing 11th in the standings.

2009 was Mark Webber’s most successful F1 season. He finished fourth in the drivers’ championship with 69.5 points, racing for Red Bull. Amongst his achievements for the season were eight podium finishes, three fastest laps and two race wins. He continues racing with Red Bull for the 2010 season.

Jenson Button

March 23, 2010 by  
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Jenson Alexander Lyons Button is a British Formula One driver born in Frome on 19 January 1980. He hit the track at a young age, beginning with karting at eight years. In 1989, at 9 years of age, Jenson Button took first competed in the British Super Prix. He achieved many successes as a kart driver, including becoming the youngest driver to win the European Super A championship in 1997.

In 1998 Jenson Button began competing in the British Formula Ford championship, where you came in first with nine race wins. That same year he placed second in the European Formula Ford championship. At the end of the year he was awarded the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. 1999 was another successful year for Jenson Button as he entered the world of Formula Three racing. Coming in third overall, he ended the season as the top rookie driver.

Jenson Button entered the Formula One scene in 2000, racing for the Williams team. He ended his debut season with 12 points and came in eighth in the Drivers’ Championship. During the 2001 F1 season, Button drove for Benetton. It was a trying season, and Button only managed to rack up 2 points and came in 17th in the Drivers’ Championship. 2002 was a much better season for the talented driver. Benetton was now named Renault F1 and Jenson Button was racing alongside teammate Jarno Trulli. He certainly improved his standings, taking seventh place at the end of the season.

In 2003, Jenson Button moved to the BAR team, to race beside Jacques Villeneuve. It was a great season for Button, despite a bad crash at Monaco, and he took ninth in the standings with 17 points. Button met with great success in the 2004 F1 season, gaining 10 podium placings and finishing third overall with 85 points. The 2005 season started off dismally, but Button fought back in the second half of the season to come in ninth in the Drivers’ Championship, scoring 36 of 37 points for his team. He continued racing for BAR in 2006, which was now known as Honda Racing F1 Team. A great season, he outperformed his teammate Rubens Barrichello, gaining his first win at the Hungary Grand Prix and finishing sixth overall. Button described his 2007 F1 season as “a total disaster”, though he did manage to show off his talents in China, placing fifth in mixed conditions. The uncompetitive Honda RA 108, meant Button had another unsuccessful season in 2008.

Honda was bought out by Ross Brawn in 2009 and team renamed Brawn GP. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were to continue racing together. 2009 was Jenson Button’s year. He hit the ground running, winning six of his first seven races. Scoring throughout the season, Button took home the championship title.

In November 2009, Jenson Button announced that he would be moving to the McLaren team for the 2010 season, after signing a three-year contract with them. He stated that he was looking forward to competing head-to-head with teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Lucas Di Grassi

March 22, 2010 by  
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Born in São Paulo, Brazil, on 11 August 1984, Lucas Tucci Di Grassi started his racing career in karting, before moving on to formula racing in 2002, where he completed the Brazilian Formula Renault season in second place, as runner-up to Sérgio Jiminez. In 2003, Di Grassi transitioned to Formula Three, finishing the Formula Three Sudamericana as runner up to Danilo Dirani. He was driving a Dallara F301 Mugen-Honda for Avallone Motorsport at the time.

In 2004 Di Grassi moved to Europe, competing in the British F3 Championship as a driver for Hitech Racing. He earned a podium finish at the Macau Grand Prix – his debut event with Hitech – and finished the season in eighth place. Driving for Manor Motorsport in 2005, Di Grassi finished third in the F3 Euroseries championship.

Moving up to GP2 with Team Durango in 2006, Di Grassi finished the season with eight points at seventeenth in the standings. Driving for ART Grand Prix in 2007, Di Grassi scored points at every race (with the exception of one), pitting him against Timo Glock for the championship. The competition between the two drivers was close virtually up to the end of the season, with Glock winning the title. Di Grassi went on to drive for Campos Racing from round four of the 2008 F2 season, where he replaced Ben Hanley. A collision with Giorgio Pantana at Spa that year resulted in Di Grassi finishing third in the season.

Having served as the third driver for Renault F1 Team in 2009, and achieving third overall in the GP2 series that year, Lucas Di Grassi signed to race for the newly created Virgin Racing team in the 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championships, with his one-time rival Timo Glock as his team-mate.

Kamui Kobayashi

March 22, 2010 by  
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Born in the town of Amagasaki, Japan, on 13 September 1986, Kamui Kobayashi was nine years old when he started his motor-sport career as so many drivers have – by competing in kart racing. His determination, and no small degree of skill, won him third place in the 1996 SL Takarazuka Tournament Cadet Class series. Over the next seven years, Kobayashi won the series twice, in addition to winning two other karting titles.

Kobayashi raced in the Esso Formula Toyota championship for the first time in 2002, following up with a second season in 2003 and finishing the season in second place. In 2004 he competed in the Italian Formula Renault series, winning two races and ending the season seventh in the standing. In 2005 he walked off with both the Italian and Eurocup Formula Renault Championship titles. Moving on to Formula Three in 2006, Kobayashi claimed three podiums in his first season. The following year, he claimed one victory in his second season of Formula Three racing, and tested for Toyota GP2.

Competing in the GP2 Asia series in 2008, Kobayashi won the second race of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya, north of Barcelona. However, after only finishing in the points once again that season, he was placed sixteenth in the final tally. In the GP2 Asia winter series of 2008/2009, Kobayashi finished sixteenth again.

Kobayashi’s opportunity came to move up to F1 racing, when he replaced Franck Montagny as the test and reserve driver for Toyota during 2008 and 2009. An opportunity arose for Kobayashi to race in the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix when Timo Glock took ill, recovering in time to participate in free practice and to qualify, but crashed in the practice session. However, as Kobayashi had not met the criteria of driving in at least one session on the Saturday, he was not eligible to participate. With Glock battling to recover from an injury sustained in his accident, Kobayashi made his F1 debut at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, qualifying eleventh and finishing in tenth place, later promoted to ninth. He raced again in Glock’s place at the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, qualifying twelfth and finishing sixth, notching up his first World Championship points.

It was widely anticipated that Kobayashi would be signed on with Toyota for the 2010 F1 season, however Toyota withdrew from Formula One racing leaving him with an uncertain future. In December of 2009 it was announced that Kobayashi would be driving for the newly re-launched Sauber team, with McLaren’s former test driver Pedro de la Rosa as his team-mate.

Mario Andretti

February 9, 2009 by  
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Mario Andretti – a name spoken with respect in auto racing circles. A master on the Formula One and NASCAR track, Mario Adretti has certainly left a major mark on the history of auto racing. Andretti, an Italian-American, has had a remarkable driving career with 4 IndyCar title wins and numerous F1 victories.

Mario Gabriele Andretti, along with his twin brother Aldo, was born on 28 February 1940 in Italy. In 1948 due to the occupation of his homeland by Yugoslavia, his family promptly departed, finally coming to reside in Nazareth of Pennsylvania, USA. Andretti’s racing career began in 1959 as he raced around a dirt track in a Hudson. His first year of racing saw Mario Andretti coming in 3rd place at the Indianapolis 500. 1964 was the year Andretti began racing in the USAC series. He also took part in a variety of forms of auto racing such as drag racing.

Mario Andretti also had a keen interest in Formula One. His first race was at Watkins Glen in 1968 and his first win for Ferrari was in 1971. Andretti’s focus really shifted to F1 driving in the mid-1970s. He began driving for the Parnelli team. He took the Lotus to its limit, developing a fantastic racing car that took an amazing full lap lead at Mount Fuji track. 1978 was a remarkable season with 6 wins in his brilliantly designed Lotus 79. Unfortunately after his previous grand successes as a Formula 1 driver, Andretti failed to gain victory from 1979 onwards. However his career in F1 reminded all why he was a champion as he competed with Ferrari in 1982. Andretti continued racing IndyCars during the ’80s.

Through his racing days Mario Andretti received much recognition, along with many awards and titles. Amongst these are the 1978 F1 World Champion, Inductee of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000 and Inductee of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996. He was even named “Driver of the Century” in 2000 by Associated Press and RACER magazine. Andretti was honored by the Italian government in 2006, by being awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

Today Mario Andretti is a successful business man. He has set up the Andretti Winery in Napa Valley and has business interests in car dealerships, petroleum, the Mario Andretti Racing School as well as the Andretti Indoor Karting and Games center. However, Mario Andretti will always be remembered as one of the greatest race car drivers ever.

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